This was a slightly different week at Casa Twistie. You see, Mr. Twistie was away at a conference. It doesn’t matter what it was or where. The important part is that he was off doing his thing, and I spent four days and nights alone with the excessively evil Jake the Cat.
Meh, big deal, you may say. But in my case, this happens a couple times a year at most. That means that I’m not especially well-versed in being by myself for more than a few hours.
I am, by nature, a gregarious person. I am also, by nature, a person who needs to be alone. I walk the tightrope by working from home by myself and then spending my evenings with Mr. Twistie and good friends, and occasionally meeting a friend for lunch at a neighborhood bistro or a brief shopping expedition.
But four days pretty much by myself? I don’t do that so often. There’s an art to being alone for an extended period of time that I don’t think I fully mastered until quite recently. In case it will be of use to anyone else, I hereby give you my tips for being alone superfantastically over the short term.
Feed yourself well. This is the biggie for me because food is often a community thing in my world. When left alone, I tend to quickly fall into the trap of skipping meals because I can’t be bothered. This, however, is a Bad Idea. It leads to lethargy and depression. At that point, I may grab something sugary or caffeine-laden, which is an Even Worse Idea, because then I’m lethargic, depressed, and shaking.
No, if you are going to be alone for several days, good, nourishing food becomes even more important. Make sure you’ve got something fulfilling and at least reasonably nutritionally sound in the house, or at least the take out menu of a restaurant in your area that delivers something that will nourish the body and the soul.
For me, I picked up some fresh shrimp the first day, because Mr. Twistie won’t touch seafood with a barge pole and I adore the stuff. I had it with a lovely stalk of broccoli and a bit of polenta with parmesan cheese. I made sure the fridge was well-stocked with yogurt for breakfast, fresh fruit for snacks, and a loaf of good bread for lunchtime sandwiches. I made sure I kept to a bit of a clock for feeding myself so that I wouldn’t get to the point where food seemed like too much of a chore to make. Because of that, I was well fed, which allowed me to make the most of my time.
Entertain yourself on your own terms. One day I treated myself to movies until my eyes began to bubble. Another, I read greedily of MFK Fisher (and can somebody tell me why for the love of fried catfish I have never read her before????), on another I went out to lunch with a new friend and then came home and had a long, cool bubble bath. I listened to music I liked, wrote down thoughts, and dreamed of feeding Tim Gunn fresh baked scones (Call me, Tim!). You may prefer to play video games or go hiking or tinker with your classic car. Whatever your idea of fun, have at it in your own time.
If you start getting lonely, contact someone. Seriously. As it happened, I did start to get lonely once or twice this week. And as it happened, someone either phoned or emailed me both times. But if others had not contacted me, I would have contacted them. Alone can be great. Lonely, not so much.
Don’t be afraid to do something unusual with your time. After all, who’s going to know or chastise you for it? I’m not saying don’t get important things like work and dishes and feeding the critters done. I just saying that this could be the time to sing a chorus of Rubber Duckie, write a fan letter to your favorite celebrity, or spend a couple hours following random links on the internet just to see where you wind up. Research whether you can get tuba lessons locally. Make a funky trim for your favorite hat. Try your hand at making chocolates or cream puffs or your own beef jerky. Start that screenplay or novel you’ve always dreamed of writing. Just exercise your curiosity or your creativity. This is precious time to get in touch with the core of who you are. Love whoever that is.
Spread out over the whole bed. Those of us who share a bed with others, sometimes get in the habit of taking up as little room as possible. Since I share a bed with a large man and the Incredible Nocturnally Expanding Cat (and those of you who are similarly cat-owned know what I’m talking about) I often find that I curl myself up in a little ball and teeter on the edge of the mattress through the night. Being alone for four nights, I got to experience what it’s like to really take up room in my own bed, and it felt great.
Doing these things allowed me to appreciate my time alone. It also gave me something exciting on my side to talk about when Mr. Twistie returned from his adventures. And that? Helps our marriage be superfantastic.
Be good to yourself when you’re alone. After all, if you don’t do it then, who will?